Kirk Douglas -- born Issur Danielovitch Demsky in 1916 -- and Diana Darrid divorced when their son Michael was seven. But his father was forever present -- in the movies. He's thoughtful about that happening all over again. He has spent much time away from home creating a career as one of Hollywood 's most in demand leading men and also as a prolific movie producer.
Douglas -- his latest film as star and producer, ‘The Ghost and the Darkness' opens today (Friday) -- created a sensation in ‘Fatal Attraction' and followed with his cruel ‘Wall Street' manipulator Gordon Gekko. It was a role his father Kirk had stamped his superstardom on for years and one that his son had avoided for precisely that reason.
He grew up enough to deal with it and it won him prizes and plaudits. Time, he says, works: ‘And with Cameron I have time on my side. He wants to race at everything but we all did at that age.
‘I remember when I was at high school I had a chance to take out the homecoming queen. I took her out and it was my first date. I was so excited I wanted everything to be perfect. After I dropped her off at home I sped out of her driveway -- I suppose I was trying to show off -- and crashed into a parked car. It was my mother's car. Hey, it's part of growing up.
‘I am trying to be there more for Cameron.I think I understand what he's going through. I had the usual troubled adolescence and lots of personal and career lows in my late teens and twenties. My son's happens to be the original good time guy -- just like his Dad. I always wanted a good time.So does he.'
When he talks he calls Cameron's grandfather Kirk as in:' When I was growing up Kirk made three or four movies a year. He just never stopped. As busy as I am I try to listen, to take time. I think it's important to let the guy say his piece and know somebody cares.
‘It's going to be tough for him in Hollywood . I think early on as an actor or even before I started acting when my father had gone before me -- you know, ten thousand warriors on Viking ships -- it was difficult. There's a larger than life persona to deal with. And my father, even in real life, has a dynamic quality about him. I figured early on:” My God, how could you ever be the man that your father is?”
‘But what happens is you get your own career and your own sense of yourself and your own work.You get to really appreciate him much more. Looking back now he's always been really supportive and following my success. When he's asked about us being in competition he always says: “You don't understand.” And people don't.
‘It's a sense of immortality to watch your son and then your grandson. That you gone. As you get older that becomes a little more important. Even more so since his stroke last year.
‘When you're an offspring of the same sex and have a vague resemblance I think people,in their hearts of hearts, would like to see an immortal Kirk Douglas. ‘As far as Cameron -- he's Kirk's only grandson -- is concerned I think he'll be fine.He deals with it all the time. He used to come to me and say:” You know, the only reason the kids at school like me is because of you. Because you're hot stuff.” I told him that when I was at school I got the same stuff. In the playground they'd say:” He's Kirk Douglas' son.”
‘Cameron will have to struggle through that sort of thing but he has a good sense or confidence.
‘It is all about how you handle yourself. Kirk said to me that what he was most proud of was not my success but the way I had handled it. He used to laugh me all the time when I was doing movies.He said I had to play a bad guy He was right for I did that in ‘'Wall Street'' and it paid off. My father said to me:” You're such a charming guy but they're going to find out what a prick you really are.'
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